Food Trends: Ethnic Flavor New Global Palate By: Elena Flottmeyer
Introduction: Food and the New Ethnic Blend in America Humans have survived over the last millions of years by learning to adapt their foodwhen it was most necessary to stay alive. People have had to alter their food source throughouthistory and many times those alterations depended on what area of the globe the person lived on.Times now are changing; things are not in such a desperate state. Now humans are not onlyeating to survive, they are eating for their own pleasure. Restaurants are the biggest indicator ofthat pleasure, restaurants live to service your every food desire and give your mouth something ityearns to come back for. But the consumer‟s palates and the population sizes are changing.Classic American restaurants have started to stray from what is known as “traditional” Americanfood and have taken on some of the most difficult cuisines across the world: Hispanic and Asian. Lately in the American economy we have seen a rise in both Asian and Hispanic culture.It is predicted that many of these minority cultures will soon be the majority in America, this isbacked up in the articles „To be Asian in America‟ and „Inventing Hispanics: A Diverse MinorityResists Being Labeled‟, these articles state that, “Still only 4.6 percent of the U.S. population, theAsian-American segment is experiencing astronomical growth. Between 2000 and 2050, thepopulation is expected to surge 213 percent according to the U.S Census Bureau.”(Meadows,2012) and states, “Hispanics are particularly important for understanding the future of diversityin American society. Already they have overtaken African Americans to become the nation‟slargest minority, and immigration patterns ensure that the number of Hispanics will continue togrow more rapidly than African Americans.”(Etzioni, 2012) It is no surprise than that bothHispanic and Asian Americans are now helping shape the appetites within the restaurantindustry. Americans are now being introduced to spicier, more ethnic foods in standard Americanrestaurants. Classic American restaurants in the upcoming years will need to start switching overto more spicy ethnic options if they want to keep their business strong, some restaurants arealready doing this as mentioned in the article, „Today‟s top 4 food trends‟, places likeMcDonalds have slowly been making small changes in menu options, in particular the articlepoints out McDonalds Thai sweet Chile sauce stating, “Thai sweet Chile sauce, now sowidespread that McDonald‟s has such a sauce, tested during the 2010 Vancouver WinterOlympics, available nationwide today.” (Thorn, 2012) Asian and Hispanic food made a longjourney from simply being a mom and pop restaurant to now moving to many differentrestaurant chains, these include but are not limited to Qdoba, Burrachos, Chipotle, PandaExpress, P.F. Changs, Leeann Chin etc. Though there are many restaurants that are coming tothe market, it is important to focus on the changes within the standard American restaurants; toget a more in depth view this paper will analyze the menu changes within Chipotle, Buffalo WildWings, and Applebee‟s.
Business Example: The Ever Popular Chipotle andBuffalo Wild WingsGoes Asian Chipotle was started in the early 1990‟s and gained popularity quickly through the useMcDonalds Corp. In the article, The Amazing Story of Chipotle, the author tells of howMcDonalds helped move Chipotle forward stating, “It was in 1998 when McDonalds Corp.purchased a minority stake in the restaurant stores were opened outside of Colorado. In 1999McDonalds took a 90% stake and by 2003 the company had 300 stores all over the country. Itwas the first time McDonalds invested in a company that it hadnt developed itself.” and states,“Its eight years with McDonalds were not only tremendous growth years for Chipotle but itallowed the company to get access to the best supplies through its parent companies hugedistribution system and establish a loyal customer base.” (Lepore, 2011) This demonstrates howmajor corporations such as McDonalds are assisting Hispanic food growth. The market is nowopening up for more restaurants like Chipotle to move in to new territory, as one author states,“Theres also a lot of truth to its statement that "Everyone wants to be Chipotle ... even Chipotle."Weve already seen Chipotles design influence revamps of Taco Bell and Wendys.”(Tepper,2012) Now Chipotle is taken on a new project called Shophouse, which according to the article,„Shophouse LA: Chipotle Opening First Asian Spinoff outside DC In 2013‟, is a Southeast AsianKitchen which is, “a spinoff of Chipotle Mexican Grill thats been dishing out rice bowls at onelocation in Washington, D.C. for just over a year, is going bicoastal.” (Satran,2012) Chipotlenew project demonstrates where the key consumer interest lies; Chipotle was one of the firstrestaurants that offered a Hispanic menu with new spicy flavors. Now that this Hispanicrestaurant is moving its focus to the Asian markets it is becoming a key element for restaurantsto innovate a new palate of global flavors. While Chipotle grows in revenue, it is building upmore revenue through the Shophouse and creating a greater industry for itself. More classicAmerican restaurants will have to start changing their menus or branching out to more ethniccompanies, one of the classic American restaurants that is doing is making that change is BuffaloWild Wings, which has always been famous for Americana pub food. Buffalo Wild Wings has always been famous for its spicy wings but wings always been astaple of Americana pub food. With the changes in the menu Buffalo Wild Wings will startoffering more Asian style of foods, even offering rice with their famous chicken wings. Amultiple array of Asian dishes are now being offered, in the article‘Restaurant review: BuffaloWings and Bowl‟ the article talks about new Asian dishes, a few of the descriptions are asfollows, “the dish Buffalo Chicken Bowl is an authentic Korean classic — rice rapidly crusting-up in a volcanically hot pot outfitted with the requisite fixins (fernbrake, zucchini, sprouts,carrots, greens, a fried egg, etc.) — crowned with the junky contemporary Yankeefavorite.Another highlight was the frittata-like Korean Pancake ($12 for the “combo”). A huge,golden-brown beauty studded with a colorful array of veggies, tiny shellfish nuggets and iotas ofbacon, it ate almost as great as it looked.Also delightful was a super-sized and perfect-for-November Veggie Noodle Soup ($9). Its veggie-infused salty chicken broth was brimming withlong, thick and fun-to-chew-on glutinous noodles.”(Benton, 2012)The author of this article wasvery fond of all the ethnic changes but it isn‟t just the author, much of the general public is
impressed with the Asian themed menu. All these changes can be related back to the increase inthe Asian population.Applebee’s Fusing Food When thinking of American restaurants that have recently offered an array of differentHispanic and Asian food, Applebee‟s was at the top of the list. Applebee‟s in recent years hasstarted to perfect the art of fusion food, they often try to mix classic American with an Asian orHispanic palate. The Applebee‟s was recently promoting a Southwest menu which offered agreat mix of the great flavors of Hispanic mixed with the richness of American food. Whenmeeting with a manager to discuss their new promotions Applebee‟s manger Alison was happyto discuss the recent promotions and how those promotions were helping shape a more ethnicmenu. She pointed out right away menu items that were keeping up with the ethnic style of otherdishes seen in other restaurants, when questions on how the growing ethnic palates in Americawere changing the menu she states, “If you see our menu we offer both a variety of Americanclassic mixed with a variety of flavors from other ethnic cultures. Our goal is to offer somethingeveryone will like we find the Americans enjoy both Asian and Hispanic foods, as well as Italianand European flavors.” Applebee‟s always seems to have a promotional menu that helps add to their overallregular menu. The manager pointed out that this is how Applebee‟s decides what will go overwell amongst their guests, if an item sells well during its promotion it stays. Upon looking overthe Applebee‟s menu this time around there was a significant amount Hispanic-American fusionfood, dishes noted from the dining experience include Southwest Shrimp Fettuccine, ChickenQuesadilla Grande, and the Fiesta Lime Chicken. When the menu was discussed with the menu Iasked what made these dishes become popular and how did they create so many differentexamples of fusion food between these two cultures, the manager stated that, “We only keepwhat our customers are interested in, fusion food has become increasingly more popular. If thereis demand we have to meet that demand.” While it is impressive the amount of work Applebee‟smust put into keeping up with new flavors, it is important to know in a place like MenomonieWisconsin is spicier food going be popular for some of the most mild palates in the US, when themanager was asked she explained, “For right now people are split down the middle, still moreand more people are willing to try spicy food. Our main age groups that eat the more spicydishes are between 20 and 50, after that most of the older people don‟t enjoy it.” Still with Chipotle constantly branching out, creating new restaurants, and Buffalo WildWings offering new Asian dishes that are unmatched by most standard American restaurant,Applebee‟s must be a little worried about the competition. When discussing with the managerabout how she felt about these new restaurants branching out and the changes they were making,she seemed untroubled, and said that, “We will keep up with what we are doing, offer food our
competitors can‟t. Many of those restaurants can‟t and won‟t enter into our area and we are stillconstantly altering our menu to make it more satisfying for the costumer.” While she is correctabout it being difficult to enter our market area, it is the food we should focus on, the simpletruth is that Applebee‟s isn‟t afraid of change and has an accurate way of offering people anethnic fusion food that brings together both American and Hispanic/Asian culture into food.Conclusion: Ethnic Food GrowthEthnic food is changing in America, with the growth of both Hispanic and Asian culture we willcontinue to see the staple food in America change. America can no longer just be a nation of justburger and fries, as a nation we are reaching greater heights with our ethnic food growth. Food isbecoming spicier and more flavorful with the adaption of these cultures and it is important to seethe popularity behind these dishes. Chipotle has been gaining in popularity since it first began tobranch out, now with its new Shophouse restaurants it may become and unstoppable for withinthe restaurant industry, still there are innovators like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee‟s whichstill offers a cuisine which combines the American and the ethnic taste. In the future, we will seegrowth within Hispanic and Asian restaurants that branch out across the nation as more and morepeople are willing to try a new global palate.
Trends ReferencesBenton, G. A. (2012, November 14). Restaurant review: Buffalo wings and bowl. ColumbusAlive.Retrieved from http://www.columbusalive.com/content/stories/2012/11/15/restaurant-review-buffalo-wings-and-bowl.htmlEtzioni, A. (2012). Inventing hispanics: A diverse minority resists being labeled. In C. Harvey (Ed.),Understanding and Managing DiversityUpper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.Lepore, M. (2011, March 31). The amazing story of chipotle . Business Insider. Retrieved fromhttp://www.businessinsider.com/the-chipotle-story-2011-3?op=1Meadows, A. (2012). To be asian in america. In P. Harvey (Ed.), Understanding and ManagingDiversityUpper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc.Satran, J. (2012, October 19). Shophouse la: Chipotle opening first asian spinoff outside dc in 2013.Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/shophouse-la-chipotle_n_1988345.htmlSmith, A. (2012, November 14). Interview by E Flottmeyer [Personal Interview].Tepper, R. (2012, October 23). Food trends 2013: Baum & Whiteman report predicts next big things indining. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/23/food-trends-2013_n_2005773.htmlThorn, B. (2012, August 2). Todays top four food trends. Restaurant News. Retrieved fromhttp://nrn.com/article/today’s-top-four-food-trends?page=0,1